An Oklahoma mom and her boyfriend who allegedly beat the mom’s 2-year-old daughter to death blame her fatal injuries on the toddler’s sleepwalking, according to multiple reports.
Shawnee Police arrested Whitney Breslin, 21, and her boyfriend Cashe Graham, 22, on September 5 after the death of Breslin’s daughter three days earlier, report KFOR, KWTV and The Shawnee News-Star.
Doctors said the toddler suffered bruising and injuries to the brain, according to a police report obtained by the outlets.
Breslin and Graham, each arrested on a charge of first-degree murder, are being held in the Pottawatomie County Jail without bond.
An attorney for Graham, Michael Arnett of Oklahoma City, says that under Oklahoma law, a not guilty plea is automatically entered upon a suspect’s arrest. He says his client will “vigorously” challenge the allegations against him.
An attorney for Breslin could not immediately be identified.
Both are due in court to be formally charged on September 21, Pottawatomie District Attorney Richard Smothermon tells PEOPLE.
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Paramedics who answered a 911 call on September 1 at the home Breslin shared with her daughter found the toddler unresponsive, after the caller — later identified by police as Graham — reported she was having trouble breathing.
“We just thought she was sleeping in a little late and, when we went to check on her, she was breathing real weird,” Graham said, according to KFOR. “She’s breathing in and out maybe every 15 seconds. She’s breathing real hard.”
At the hospital, doctors discovered the child suffered from swelling and bleeding on the brain, according to a police report. They noted bruising on her abdomen and another bruise on her face, and determined that such symptoms would have appeared about an hour after the injury, reports KWTV.
“It just tells us there is a really small window as to who is responsible for this,” Shawnee Police Detective Jason Crouch told the TV station.
The child was transferred to a second hospital, where she died from her injuries on Saturday, September 2.
Breslin and Graham told police they did not harm the child, and blamed her injuries on sleepwalks where she often fell, despite their efforts to childproof the home with “rubber on the corners of the desks and the cabinets and the windowsills,” said Crouch, according to KFOR.
“You know, that was something that was odd in this thing, you know, they were actually trying to childproof the home,” Crouch said.
Doctors told police, however, that the severity of the injuries suggest they were inflicted intentionally. A police report blames the death on “non-accidental abusive head trauma.”
“It was some kind of assault or abuse,” Crouch said. “The only way it can be explained is somebody did that to her.”
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Police also said this was the child’s third time in the emergency room within a month, reports KWTV.
In addition the child tested positive for marijuana at a level high enough that authorities believe it must have been ingested, Crouch said, and a police report states the couple allegedly admitted to having marijuana in the home.
“Neither one of them are coming off their story, saying that they understand how bad it looks but that they didn’t do it,” Crouch said of the suspects. “Well, somebody did it. One of them did it. Either one of them did it and the other’s covering for them, or vice versa or they both were a part of it.”